Instrument Rental/Purchase Tips
Recommended brand names of instruments--this is NOT a complete list
Ø   Eastman – sold at Hickey’s Music in Ithaca and J.R. Judd in Williamsport. Good make, although quality is sometimes inconsistent.
Ø   Johannes Kohr
Ø   Snow
Ø   Scott Cao
Ø   Suzuki Nagoya
Ø   Gliga (made in Romania)
Indicators of a LOW QUALITY instrument:
Ø   Painted purfling (the fine black lines close to the edge of the instrument). It should be an actual seam, not painted-on for looks.
Ø   Varnished neck (similar concept to purfling)
Ø   Plywood construction
Ø   “Palatino” brand instruments
Ø   “Cremona” brand instruments
Things to look for in a GOOD QUALITY instrument:
Ø   Ebony fingerboard and pegs
Ø   Finished, hard maple wood bridge
Ø   “Wittner” tailpiece (not the version made in China)
Ø   Carbon-fiber or Glasser brand if buying a synthetic bow
Ø   Pernambuco or brazilwood if buying a wood bow
Ø   Real horsehair vs. fiberglass
Some helpful hints:
ü      Do not rent or purchase an instrument from a place that is not equipped to do set-up or repairs.
ü      Stay away from online marketplaces. However, websites that specialize in orchestral instruments, such as Southwest Strings or Shar Music, are exceptions to this rule.
ü      No matter where you shop, you SHOULD be allowed at least 1 week to show the instrument to your teacher and try it out BEFORE you purchase it.
ü      Look for shops that specialize in string instruments and have personnel who are able to answer your questions.
ü      If you purchase an instrument outfit (instrument, bow and case in one package) at low cost from an unqualified vendor, expect to pay for replacement or repair of bridge, case, bow, tailpiece, etc, down the road.
ü      If you begin a rental program, make sure the total cost of rental goes toward purchase of the instrument. Make sure vendor is someone you can trust and will maintain the product after purchase. Make sure vendor has the selection and quality you want when it comes to purchasing a full size instrument down the road.
Recommended brand names of strings:
Ø      Thomastik Dominant
Ø      Prelude
Ø      D’Addario
Ø      Pirastro
Ø      Corelli
Ø      Super-Sensitive Red Label (low-end string but economical)
Ø      Helicore (best for viola)
ü      Keep an extra set of strings on-hand in case one breaks.
ü      Strings lose their resonance in time – like an elastic waistband that wears out.  It is recommended to change strings once every 18 months.
String Specialists
Race Orchestral Strings - Ithaca, NY, email:, (607) 592-4723
Hosmer Violins - Syracuse, NY,, (877)773-1402
J.R. Judd Violins - Williamsport, PA,, (570) 321-8070
MacBlane Stringed Instruments - Preble, NY (607) 749-2594
Shar Products -, (800)-248-SHAR
Southwest Strings - (800) 528-3430
The String House - Rochester, NY, (800) 828-3548
Retail Music Stores
Robert M. Sides Music – Arnot Mall, Big Flats, NY (607) 739-1559
Hickey’s Music – Ithaca, NY,, 1-800-HICKEYS (442.5397)